Scientific and commercial research into nanopolymer technology, polymers or copolymers with nanoparticles or nanofillers dispersed in the polymer matrix, has exploded since its discovery less than a decade ago and today there are many applications for nanopolymers both in industry and in consumer markets. From medical devices to cars and now textiles and clothing, the technology, which is invisible to the human eye, is now all around us.
One avenue of research, development and commercialization of nanopolymers is in the nano coatings industry where nanopolymer coatings can impart amazing new properties to materials, increasing their effectiveness whilst decreasing their maintenance time and cost.
When nanopolymer coatings are sprayed onto a surface, extraordinary things can happen. The most common use is rendering a material superhydrophobic, or completely water and oil repellent. This also offers a secondary benefit preventing the accumulation of water, which is a food source for bacteria and fungi, prohibiting growth in the protected area. Nano coatings also form a protective barrier for delicate surfaces preventing scratching and other environmental hazards.
So, whether you are looking to protect your favourite outfit from coffee stains, your shiny shoes from mud or salt damage, or to keep your car looking like it has just been washed, nanopolymer coatings could offer the perfect solution.
Commercialising nanotechnology breakthroughs and inventions
As a nano coating manufacturer headquartered in Maldegem, Belgium, Nanex Company is a young and innovative organisation specializing in the commercialization of nanotechnology breakthroughs and inventions, whose first and flagship products are based on protective coating technologies incorporating special nanoparticles, which have cleaning and protective properties.
The East Flanders based nano coating manufacturer company says that it is the ease of use of its products that ensures that they are optimized for both consumer and industrial use. The company’s main objective is to improve product properties and provide eco-friendly solutions for a wide array of needs in multiple markets.
As the entrepreneur and Nanex CEO Aaron Claeys puts it: “We strive to go deeper and combine advanced chemistry with discoveries in the field of nanotechnology, which can benefit or improve our everyday life and environment. As a nano coating manufacturer, our work is always aimed at the most ecological way to attain the best results possible in our product properties.”
“We strive to create more value for society and evolutionary building blocks to push barriers in what we call new age technology.”
Take Nanex’ Always Dry product for example. Always Dry is a superhydrophobic water repellent spray from the company’s expanding nanotechnology product line which has been developed for a wide range of applications. According to Nanex, Always Dry protects all absorbent surfaces, including textiles, leathers, wood and stone against fluids and stains of any density.
Always Dry formulas contain nanopolymers, which bond at a molecular level with any absorbent surface and form an invisible protection layer with highly hydrophobic properties. Any fluid in contact with the treated surface cannot adhere to it – it simply beads and rolls off, the company says.
Nanex claims the following advantages for Always Dry:
- Provides immediate and long term protection
- No change in colour, texture or breathability of the surface
- Safe and easy to use
- High penetration provides protection below the surface
- Leaves any surface or finished article looking like new for a long time
- Reduction in cleaning times and frequency of cleaning
- UV protection prevents the treated surface changing colour
- Reduction in need for detergents or cleaning agents for surface maintenance
- Protection against acid rain and pollution
For the protection of textiles and leathers two Always Dry formulas are available, one water based and the other solvent based.
Feedback on nano coatings for textiles and nonwovens
As a superhydrophobic and nano coating manufacturer, Nanex is keen to share some of the insights it has recently received in the way of feedback from the textiles industry as well as some developments it has carried out to date to meet the requirements of protecting textiles at the highest level.
Nano coatings for textiles that create superhydrophobic surfaces or extreme water repellent surfaces are very visual, but according to Aaron Claeys, people are often stuck at that point and it is important to fully understand the technology in this particular use.
“The coatings are known for a high repellent angle of 150 degrees and above and that is how the water beads off faster and easier than the more traditional waterproofing products,” says Claeys.
“Of course these products also have limitations and that is the case if we are working with breathable, non-closing protective layers although it still provides the highest protection. As well as the best beading effect, we saw some other interesting points that could improve and change the industry with our latest developments,” says Aaron Claeys.
The main factors highlighted in textiles industry feedback for Nanex products are water repellence, easy cleaning, invisibility and the fact that they can be universally applied to all kinds of fibres. Nanex explains:
Water & Oil repellence
The extra oil repellence offered by Nanex’ technology creates wider potential use and a better protective layer then standard water repellent products. Here, Nanex is thinking about workwear, gloves and other items that are exposed to oil which damage the fabrics.
Because the coating is on a nanometric scale it is wrapped around each individual fibre and stains and liquids cannot damage the fibres and are more easily removed.
Because the coating thickness is below the micro range, they are invisible and keep the flexibility of the textiles and feel or handle intact.
Nanex coatings are universal and can be applied to all natural fibre based fabrics as well as man-made fibre based fabrics, making them useful for al kinds of technical textiles and nonwovens.
Cost effective solutions
Nanex says that interest in nano coating textiles and nonwovens has significantly increased in popularity over the last few years. Aaron Claeys explains: “We see that in this industry, like many other commodities, the price and application is often a stumbling block for the products to enter the market sufficiently and reach their full potential.”
“However, we found a solution to implement a concentrated form of our product inside the production line of different textile manufacturers.”
Application for producers
“For example, for fabric or apparel manufacturers, this can be done at the rinsing phase. The product is diluted with the rinsing water before drying.”
Nanex finishes can also be applied in a bath or dip coating process and other tested methods used for example by shoe manufacturers include spraying.
“But curtains, carpets, and furniture producers all have the opportunity to implement this coating in their production process. We see this as customer service to guide every client to a successful application process,” Aaron Claeys adds.
Nanex is also currently doing tests during the weaving of textiles where it can install a bath with product, which fabric goes through and is heated and directly activated after the weaving process.
First mover advantage
Claeys is keen to talk about first mover advantage for producers of textiles and nonwovens: “Now that we covered how these innovative superhydrophobic nano coatings can be used and applied in our current systems, we know that first movers or clients who are able to get on the train first will have a tremendous competitive advantage. Textile manufacturers can expect an increase in sales and have new marketing and selling opportunities.”